Monday, September 29, 2014

He is There

Birthdays in the mission don't really seem to mean that much.  I am now 21 (I know, I am old for a missionary). Really I feel like I just turned 20.  I feel like I should be a teenager still but I am not.  I am not even close to a teenager.  I don't know if this makes me fully adult or if I am just lost in between the two. But any how, the mission goes on. 
This week we were really able to get a good group of investigators to teach and things are really beginning to pick up in Barretos. The members are becoming much more excited about the ward and they seem more excited to help. This week I saw a lot of prayers being answered, not only mine but those of other people as well.  I know that God does respond to our prayers.  If you don't think you see miracles a lot just think about that. Think about the fact that we can talk to the creator of the universe and he listens, and not only does he listen but he responds. That doesn't mean he always does what we want, but he always does what is best for us. If we are willing to stop, look, and listen, there will be an answer.  I know God is real.  I want all of you to know that as well, and if you don't know that, ask Him.  He will let you know that He is really there, and He will let you know that he cares.
I love you all. I hope you all have a good week.

Elder Russell 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Miracles Happen

So my new companion is named Elder F. Silva.  There are some last names that are really common in Brazil like Silva, Oliveira, dos Santos, Moreira. Since two missionaries in Brazil can't have exactly the same name on their name tag in the same mission, my companion is Elder F. Silva.  We already have a Silva (and a P. Silva and a M. Silva just to name a few that come to mind right now). He is from the city of Sao Paulo so he didn't have to go very far.  He is really awesome.  I am enjoying the training.
This Sunday we had a really awesome experience.  A woman named Enizete just randomly showed up in church.  She has a friend that is a member who told her where the church was a while ago. Her husband died a month ago and she was going to the cemetery, as she says, to cry when she felt that she should go to church. She arrived just in time for Gospel Principles class.  Miraculously, the lesson was entitled "Families Can be Forever" (or something like that in English). It was exactly what she needed to hear. After church, we went to her member friend's home and taught her about the Plan of Salvation.  After the lesson, when someone told a joke, she said it was a the first time she had laughed in over a month.  It is really nice to help people.  Also, miracles really happen.
I had to give a talk last Sunday and I don't think it really was quite as good as I wanted it to be, but I really learned a lot preparing for it.  One thing I have also learned on the mission is how to talk for a long time.  They assigned me 20 minutes to talk but I ended up having about 30 and the Bishop had to tell me to stop (well kick my foot). So I guess missionaries talk a lot. 
Also, I was excited because we found granola bars for 3 for 2 reais (about a dollar).  Stuff like that is usually really expensive here. 
The week has been great.  I hope yours was too.  I love you all.
Elder Russell

Monday, September 15, 2014

Barretos Again

So I will start off with a cooking story. My Mother sent me a box of easy-make red lobster biscuits as I requested because they are really good. I have included some pictures of the results and I will explain the difficulties I had. Firstly, you are supposed to add sharp cheddar cheese to the batter before you cook them. The last time I saw cheddar cheese was in the MTC (missionary training center). They have a cheese here that they call cheddar but it is not; its American so I had to use that because it was the closest thing I could find. Second, measuring cups are not something you commonly find in Missionary apartments it appears. I  couldn’t find a single one so I had to eyeball the water. I think it was a bit too much. They ended up a bit more like a bready, cheesy pancake but despite it all,  it was quite good. I ate them all because my companion didn't want any.

In other news, we had a baptism!  His name is Neto or at least that’s what we call him.  He is named Jarbas III, but in Portuguese, to indicate III, a lot of the time they use the word Neto which means grandson.  He is the son of a woman who was recently baptized.  It was really amazing to see the change that happened in him. When we met him, he hardly wanted to spend enough time with us to listen to the lessons, let alone wake up early on Sunday to go to church.  He would rather play video games or sleep.  Then with time he began to read a bit and went to church and then one day we explained to him about the atonement using the example of a debtor and the friend who pays the debt for him.  It really clicked for him what Jesus Christ had done for him and he just about cried (I say almost because the tears never left his eyes).  After that he never complained about going to church again.

And for the third topic, we had transfers! Sadly, Elder De Queiroz has left Barretos.  But on the bright side, I am going to train!!! So I'm actually in Ribeirao Preto right now and I will meet my new companion tomorrow. I am very excited!
That is all I have for today. I love you all!

Elder Russell

Monday, September 8, 2014


I have begun to realize that Barretos is a very dusty city.  It is surrounded by fields of sugar cane (as this is the principal crop in the region) and the dirt in Brazil is very light and red so it gets everywhere and is really annoying to get off your shoes. Then there is the fact that at the beginning of the growing season (right now), they burn all the stuff that is in the field, and so there is a ton of ash in the air, as well. Our kitchen isn't really enclosed on the roof, so it gets covered in a small layer of ash that we have to remove from time to time. But it is what it is.
In more interesting news, this week we found some pretty cool families. That is the really cool thing about Barretos, no one is single here, they are all families!  Teaching families is always a lot more fun and that is what everyone wants to do anyway. I hope that they will all realize how the gospel can help them in their lives.  Barretos really is a very different type of city.  It is Brazil--Country Style.  I am enjoying it!  I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Elder Russell

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Survived!

So the Festival of the Peão is over and things are going back to normal! Even with the festival, my companion and I decided that we were being a bit pessimistic and thought that we would just work like normal and were definitely blessed for doing that. We found several good families who were all very interested. (All of our work was basically knocking on doors since none of our investigators were in town for the Festa) We had a dentist, age about 50, tell us that we had opened a door for him and that he really learned something knew. It was really cool because when we got there, it was clear that he is the type of person who thinks he knows a lot (which he does) and didn't expect that we would have anything new to tell him.  However, he was wrong.
There are a lot of people in this city and we are just beginning to find them. This week we knocked a lot of doors. A lot of doors, and talked with a fair number of people. We even found a lady who had a goose in her backyard. That was a bit weird.
In other news, our washing machine broke, so we are cleaning our clothes by hand; which leads me to the most interesting domestic thing I have learned in a while. Clothes can be cleaner by hand than in a machine. I have some stains that I acquired when I got to the mission field that didn't leave until this week because I washed them by hand. It was really quite amazing. That was my big discovery for the week.  
I hope you all have a good week. I sure did. I love you all!
Elder Russell

And this is a photo of a type of cookie called black power, which is the word for an afro in Brazil (like the haircut).  It is basically an Oreo but way cheaper. Oreos are really expensive in Brazil.